(Caring for each other.)
Quote: “The Greatest Gift you can Give your Children is to Love your Spouse.”
Congratulations, together you are welcoming into this world a precious little bundle of joy!
Now the fun “work” begins.
Babies used to be reared in a community with extra help, guidance, nurturing and help to establish confidence in the new parents.
You’ve all heard of the saying “ it takes a village to raise a child”.
In recent decades though some of our nuclear families haven’t the advantage of this extra help and therefore it becomes even more important to work as a team.
Whether you are a husband and wife, same sex partners or a single parent with family backup, this team work is extremely important.
When I ran my baby and toddler clinic I was warmed by how many partners asked me how they could best help their family unit.
I was also asked by primary carers how best to support their partners .
What a great foundation for starting a family!
Many of us have experienced frustration in a relationship when our partner expects us to “read their minds” or simply guess what support we need.
I’ve had mums say “He can see that the washing needs to
be done .. I shouldn’t have to ask him!”
A typical plea from partners is “She appears to be managing well but she doesn’t trust me to bathe our little one”
So resentment creeps in early.
Naturally communication (along with a good dose of humour) is the key!
Even before baby (or babies) arrives discuss what roles you both feel comfortable with and also what roles you’re feeling less comfortable with.
***Here are some simple cues to be there for each other with what I call… life’s “6 L’s” ***
Really listen to each other . Let your partner know that you do understand their fears, worries as well as sharing their joys and achievements.
*Make time in both of your busy days to relax, have a cuppa and connect and even a snuggle.
*If your partner wants to help, listen to them but give them a little breathing space and don’t hover over them whilst they’re learning too.
*New mums (or primary carers) can be very protective and forget to allow their partners a little autonomy.
*Some new partners can become “ Bob the Builders” and want to fix everything without really listening to what the main care giver really wants. (sometimes it’s just a cuddle or a hot cup of tea).
*Listen together and get to know your little ones coos, gaas, squeaks and cry’s. As a team you’ll soon get to know those precious sounds of what your Bub is trying to communicate with you.
Be prepared to learn.
Both your lives are changing and when new concepts are learnt together the load (and joy) is shared.
*Learn your little ones cues such as tiredness, wind, hunger or just needing a cuddle.
*Pop on videos about breast or formula feeding and watch and learn together. Read articles on the internet or from books.
*Both of you should learn how to change nappies, bathe, dress and swaddle your little one.
*Partners can also learn how to sterilise bottles and breast pumping equipment as well as other tasks such as washing or fixing a quick snack.
*Many of my primary carer’s partners also made it their mission to learn the “ Harvey Karp 5’s “methods of settling a newborn.They where whizzes at it!
*Learn to become confident in caring for not only your newborn but your wife, husband or partner. Building those skills will make you feel more in control and in turn will benefit your family.
*Learn to ask for help.
Don’t assume your partner should know what you need.
They might assume you’re handling things well and be oblivious to your exhaustive days and nights.
*Learn to accept help. For example if extended family or friends offer to batch cook some meals.. gratefully accept or actually ask them. Most families would feel it was the least they could do to help you especially in the first months.
Don’t put your lives on hold just because you’re a couple of a new Bub!
*Of course you’ll need to establish some sort of order or routine but once this in place become flexible and not too strict on yourselves.
*Remember before you were parents there were many components to you.You were a partner, husband or wife, workmate, friend, mate and part of a family.
*I have seen many negative emotional effects on both partners when being a parent was their only focus.
*Take time out individually and together.
*I encourage all my families to soon start “dating” again.
Even a dessert and coffee whilst your “village” minds Bub in between feeds.
*Dads or partners can “wear” Bub in a carrier going for a walk whilst the main carer de-stresses with a bubble bath or a trip to the hairdressers or a coffee with friends.
*Keep in touch with friends that are going through similar highs and lows with you both and share your concerns and special moments.
Don’t take the role of being parents too seriously. Lighten up!
*Giggle at each other’s efforts to nappy change or being the recipient of a bubbly nappy or a frothy vomit.
*Laugh instead of criticise when your partner hangs out the washing but displays your undies on the outside of the line or hangs 3 socks with one peg!
*Scientifically its been proven that laughter releases endorphins (the feel good hormone).
A lovely memory I have was bath time with our twin newborn daughters, my husband and son.
We would have a bath each and a little pile of clothes to dress them. My son (3 1/2 years old) would run between us being the chief belly washer.
One day we had a race and my husband threw my twin’s clothes all over the room so he’d win.
We laughed and laughed…my son thought it was hilarious!
Many times I’ve seen couples at loggerheads with each other because of pure exhaustion, lack of communication and different expectations.
*As partners letting each other know that you “have their back” and your focus is working as a team is extremely important.
*Give each other cuddles, hugs or a nice back rub without the expectation of making love. The power of touch is amazing!
*Words of praise and encouragement go such a long way to make each partner valued.
*Once a partner is back at work touch base regularly with the main carer via text or phone calls.Let them know you miss your little family.
*Occasionally bring home some flowers or takeaway for dinner.
Yes, I know it sounds mushy and corny but it’s the little gestures that really matter.
There’s a saying
“love isn’t what you say..it’s what you do !”